I made this pie after a bracing walk on a wintry Welsh beach, a long stretch of sand lined with pines on one side and tempting glistening sea on the other. Icy cold, we dipped our toes in then ran to the car. On the drive home I became fixated on pie and an hour or so later we were eating a comforting crust of mashed cauliflower on top of a rich lentil ragu, cooked until the lentils were almost soft. Its warmth spread all the way to our feet. I use cauliflower but you could also use potato or a mix of roots.
Sardinas fritas con pipirrana
(Pan-fried sardines with pipirrana)
Pipirrana is a refreshing combination of tomatoes, onions, peppers and hard-boiled eggs which balances out the stronger flavour of the pan-fried sardines very well.
A treat today, but something I could happily eat all sunmer long. By the way, I use Maris Pipers for this very soft mash, but a waxy-fleshed potato such as Charlotte would be good too; unorthodox, but capable of giving an even smoother, more velvety mash.
I need something to quell my avocado-toast habit. That moment when I take an avocado, skin, stone and smash it, stir in a little olive oil, coriander and salt, then slather it on toasted sourdough. Nothing wrong with that, other than the regularity with which it replaces lunch or even dinner.
I need something less soft and green, something with a heart, soul and balls. So today, I toast a thin slice of sourdough over which I pour olive oil, then add ‘nduja, the spreadable, spiced Italian sausage available from supermarkets and Italian grocery shops. Put it back under the grill, I then calm its chilli heat down with a thick slice of soft, chalky white goat’s curd.
Menestra de verduras often served in littles bowls in fashionable Madrid bars, but probabaly the best I have ever had was made for me by Raul Domingo, when I stayed with him and his family in the city. Raul is a history lecturer, his wife, Carmen, a photographer, lecturer and archivist, and their student daughter Livia is a jazz and classical violinist. The shelves of their home groan with incredible books and the walls are covered in extraordinary paintings, and when it comes to food, Raul is in charge of the kitchen and his cooking is excellent. While I was writing up recipe notes he brought me a Madrid tapa of fine crisps and escabeche mussels (see page 111) and then a little bowlful of this light, delicious, nutritious menestra.
Up next, in this month’s Coming of Age theme, an extract from Bee Wilson’s First Bite. We are not born knowing what to eat; we each have to figure it out for ourselves. From childhood onwards, we learn how big a portion is and how sweet is too sweet. We learn to love broccoli – or not. But how does this happen? What are the origins of taste? And once we acquire our food habits, can we ever change them for the better? In this chapter, Bee tackles memory, and how our food memories hold emotional force year after year. Read more…
Last month, Anna Jones, author of A Modern Way to Eat and A Modern Way to Cook, spent a very happy day with the brilliant food writer and owner of the Pear Cafe in Bristol, Elly Curshen, better known as Elly Pear. They have a lot in common – from favourite restaurants, teas and foods, not to mention a publisher. Anna and Elly got together to do a lot of eating and record a little food tour of Hackney in East London, where Anna lives, but ended up chatting about a whole lot more. Read more…